Tutor profile: Amanda C.
What is the "So what?" question?
"So what?" is an important question to ask yourself when writing any kind of essay, report, or paper. When you make a claim, it is important to follow that up with another sentence explaining to the reader why what you've stated previously matters. For example, let's say you are writing a paper on Romeo and Juliet and you claim, "Mercutio is characterized by constantly fluctuating between a lackadaisical jokester and a serious, thoughtful character." That's great information, but you're not ready to move on yet. You need to ask yourself, "so what?" Why does what I just said matter to an interpretation of this play? What is important or at stake in Mercutio acting silly and serious? Why should the reader care? This is something you'll need to ask yourself throughout the process of writing and though it means more work, it will make your points stronger, persuade your audience more, and boost the quality of your paper.
What is the significance of Hamlet's "Alas, poor Yorick" soliloquy?
This could be an instance of foreshadowing, alluding to Hamlet, and the rest of the court's, impending death. It could also be a hint that Hamlet is soon going to learn that Ophelia, someone beautiful that Hamlet loved, is dead. The soliloquy could be considered Hamlet's musing on the futility of great deeds, that is, that even great men will die and become dirt used to stop barrel holes. In this case, we could think of this as Hamlet's last moment of uncertainty towards avenging his father's death before he decides who he is and what he must do in the grave with Laertes. This speech could even be considered Shakespeare's message to his contemporary upper class audience, suggesting that no matter how many powders, wigs, and cosmetics the nobles used to appear young and fashionable, they would eventually die and be virtually indistinguishable from the peasants they once ruled over.
How can we think about The Misfit from Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in terms of postmodernism?
The Misfit is characterized by his nihilistic and ambivalent outlook. Reflective of authorial attitudes in the post-WWII decades, The Misfit feels that there is "no real pleasure in life" and anticipates death with a vow to "enjoy the last few minutes you got left" by committing violent crime and misanthropy. He projects this belief onto humans at large, suggesting that people are only good in the face of death, "'She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.'" Further embodying postmodernist principles, The Misfit holds strange and often contradictory beliefs about society. Much like Fredric Jameson's theory of a schizophrenic "crisis of historicity", The Misfit can neither remember his crimes nor decide whether he deserves punishment. He seems to live exclusively in the present moment, but is unsure if there is any pleasure in "meanness" or if there is nothing to be enjoyed in life at all.
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